Europe is being left behind by the rest of the world when it comes to nuclear development

Moscow was bathed in sunshine when I attended the recent Atomexpo conference. The sunny atmosphere in the streets outside was reflected in the mood of some of the discussions inside the hall too.

Two themes interested me. Firstly there was a reminder that an encouraging number of countries are now seriously contemplating investment in new nuclear capacity.

While much of Europe is still hesitating before taking the plunge and policy signals from the EU are ambiguous a parade of countries from Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere appeared here ready to declare publicly their recognition that nuclear will be part of their national energy mix going forward.

Leading African nations including Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Zambia all lined up to express their support for nuclear power. From the Middle East Egypt and Jordan joined in. Further Asia Bangladesh and Cambodia echoed similar views.

The second theme was the widespread acceptance that nuclear and renewables are not in competition but rather complement each other as two necessary forms of low carbon energy which are both needed in the first half of this century to decarbonise the electricity generation industry.

A couple of panellists in a session in which I participated even suggested that renewables could replace both fossil fuels and nuclear power. This is not NNWE’s view because the cost of electricity storage would have to fall very substantially before it would be economic for any economy safely to phase out its base load power providers.

The conclusion I drew from all this was that the case for treating nuclear and renewables more alike in terms of policy is extremely strong. European Commission please note.

Tim Yeo speaking at Atomexpo

Tim Yeo speaking at Atomexpo